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The single largest contributor to anthropogenic methane emissions is the livestock sector, where around 32 per cent of all man-made global methane emissions are estimated to originate from the digestive systems (known as enteric fermentation) and manure management of large, farmed animals (cattle in particular). Together with rice cultivation, the agriculture sector accounts for about 40 per cent of all man-made emissions.1 In the EU, the agriculture sector is responsible for 54 per cent of the EU’s methane emissions.2

If the system remains “business as usual” with increasing meat and dairy production and a growing world population, methane emissions from this sector will undermine our ability to achieve the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.

A number of cost-effective and ready-to-implement solutions already exist to reduce emissions from this sector, including shifting to healthier and more sustainable diets and consuming less and better meat and dairy. Current consumption rates are significantly higher than our bodies need to be healthy. Comprehensive technical measures can also be implemented in livestock farming to reduce methane emissions and emissions of other non-CO2 pollutants like nitrous oxide, which are also damaging the natural environment and another potent greenhouse gas.

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Other Main Sources of Methane Emission

The waste sector is the second largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions in the EU and contributes to around 27 per cent of all such emissions. The main strategies to reduce solid waste emissions are reduction, source separation and treatment of organic waste.

Around 20 per cent of global methane emissions are produced during the processing of gas, the extraction and processing of crude oil and coal and by fossil gas used in the petrochemical industry for the production of plastics. At EU level, excluding emissions associated with EU imports of oil, gas and coal, the figure is 17 per cent. However, a new analysis by the IEA shows that methane emissions from the energy sector are around 70 per cent higher than previously assumed.